Aging and Livable Communities

The Aging of America provides an extraordinary opportunity for planners to create plans and policies and help develop and redevelop communities that are more age friendly ... and, therefore, more livable. According to Deborah Howe, Baby Boomers "will swell the ranks of those aged 65-plus from 34.8 million in 2000 to a projected 70.3 million in 2030, ultimately representing 20 percent of the U.S. population."

In this current environment, where livability principles and sustainable communities constitute a priority, the Divisions Council can take the lead in galvanizing planners to apply the aging filter to planning initiatives and opportunities.

Divisions are rich in knowledge resources and expertise that can help guide the fundamental transformation to communities that are livable for all. Divisions can help frame this transformation rooted in the unique needs of place and community.


This online resource is designed for planners and researchers seeking an interdisciplinary, annotated bibliography of pertinent literature about Americans' growing desire to remain in their homes and participate in their communities as they age.

This list highlights articles, events, and publications from the American Planning Association and other experts in the field.

This is an online resource for planners and researchers seeking an interdisciplinary, annotated bibliography of pertinent literature about Americans' growing desire to remain in their homes and participate in their communities as they age.

This list highlights articles, events, and publications from the American Planning Association and other experts in the field.

New items will be added periodically so please revisit this page to see the most current ideas about Aging in Place.

A Note on the Availability of Resources

Articles from Planning magazine and PAS Memo are available online to members of APA.

Articles from JAPA, Zoning Practice, and Planning & Environmental Law are available to those publications' subscribers in varying online formats. JAPA articles in the bibliography contain an access link for subscribers who are also APA members.

Current APA Articles and Research

American Planning Association. 2011. "Using Smart Growth and Universal Design to Link the Needs of Children and the Aging Population." Family-Friendly Communities Briefing Papers 2. Available at

  • This brief explains how multigenerational planning creates new coalition-building opportunities. It delves into civic participation and engagement and why it is essential for all age groups. Finally it explores why an understanding of the needs of multiple generations and planning through the life cycle is essential to smart growth and sustainable design and development.

American Planning Association. 2008. Housing an Elderly Population. Planning Advisory Service Essential Info Packet 21. Chicago: American Planning Association. Available at

  • This Essential Info Packet provides resources, reports, plans, and sample ordinances for a range of senior housing options to help communities address these issues. This packet is available free of charge to Planning Advisory Service subscriber agencies.

Arvidson, A. 2011. "Here's to LONG Life." Planning, 77(7), 10-15. Available at

  • The article offers information on the Vitality Project established in Albert Lea, Minnesota, a program for older people spearheaded by Dan Buettner, author and explorer. The city created a policy change from maintenance of sidewalks to support for community gardens and transportation. The city is one of the first in Minnesota to consider a complete streets policy that requires all major reconstruction.

Baldwin, C., and K. Kali. 2011. "Aging in Place: The Village to Village Model." APA Private Practice Perspectives. Spring 2011. Available at

  • Current and soon-to-be seniors face tough issues as retirement investments dwindle, home equity falls, and challenges associated with publicly financed long-term supports are ongoing. Key challenges for traditional financing, organizing, and delivering long-term supports and related services are discussed.

Evans-Cowley, Jennifer. 2006. "Zoning for Universal Design and Visitability." Zoning Practice, April 2006. Available at

  • This issue of Zoning Practice takes a look at a number of communities that have incorporated universal design and visitability principles into their building and zoning codes.

Groc, Isabella. 2008. "Overextended: Granny Flats and Other Options Are Filling the Need for Multigenerational Housing." Planning, 74 (7). .

  • This article explores the increasing popularity of additional housing units and other options for large or multigenerational families. The additional units are seen as an effective use of space and resources as well as improving family life. Construction of the units, however, is made difficult by zoning restrictions and negative attitudes of surrounding neighbors. Examples of construction on housing lots are given from Santa Cruz, California, and Spokane, Washington, and a multigenerational apartment building in New York City is presented.

Handy, S., J.F. Sallis, D. Weber, E. Maibach, and M. Hollander. 2008. "Is Support for Traditionally Designed Communities Growing? Evidence from Two National Surveys." Journal of the American Planning Association, 74(2), 209-221. Available at

  • This study assesses trends in public support for traditionally designed communities and provides insights into factors associated with that support. Findings show that public support for developing traditionally designed communities is strong, widespread, and growing. Although such communities find less support in rural areas and raise concerns over limited space, they have appeal as child- and elderly-friendly places.

Handy, Susan, Robert Paterson, and Kent Butler. 2003. Planning for Street Connectivity: Getting from Here to There. Planning Advisory Service Report no. 515, Chicago: American Planning Association. Available at

  • This report takes a close look at research results and studies of 14 communities' efforts to incorporate greater connectivity. Excerpts from the codes of nine communities are included in an appendix. This report will make it possible for planners and others to present a wealth of information to residents and local officials about street connectivity to answer their questions and concerns.

Hunter-Zaworski, K. 2007. "Getting Around in an Aging Society." Planning, 73(5), 22-25.

  • The article focuses on the effect of an aging society on U.S. planners and engineers who are involved with public transportation. It has been inferred that the development of land-use and transportation systems should be attractive to people of all ages who enjoy active lifestyles, own fewer cars, and support public transportation. In return, it is important that communities provide public transportation for older people to ease the transition from driving to nondriving, while still supporting an active lifestyle. Emerging issues related to aging drivers and mobility options include parking for disabled drivers and passengers, community bases, and neighborhood electric vehicles.

Light, Jennifer. 2001. "Separate but Equal?" Journal of the American Planning Association, 67(3), 263. Available at

  • Examines the regressive effects of the uncritical interpretations of the role of technology in achieving employment goals in the U.S. Offers perspectives on reasonable accommodation, the role of an information society in social policies, and the reduction of physical barriers for people with disabilities.

McCann, Barbara, and Suzanne Rynne. 2010. Complete Streets; Best Policy and Implementation Practices. Planning Advisory Service Report No. 559. Chicago: American Planning Association. Available at

  • Drawing on lessons learned from more than 30 communities around the country, this report provides insight into successful policy and implementation practices that have resulted in complete streets. Readers will learn how to build support for complete streets, adopt a policy, and integrate complete street concepts into plans, processes, and standards.

Smith, S.K., S. Rayer, and E.A. Smith. 2008. "Aging and Disability: Implications for the Housing Industry and Housing Policy in the United States." Journal of the American Planning Association, 74(3), 289-306. Available at

  • The authors demonstrate the impact of population growth and aging on the projected number of households with at least one disabled resident and estimate the probability that a newly built single-family detached unit will have at least one disabled resident during its expected lifetime. The lack of accessible housing provides an opportunity for homebuilders to develop and market products that meet the needs of an aging population. In light of concerns about the civil rights of people with disabilities and the high public cost of nursing home care, housing accessibility is a critical issue for planners and policymakers as well. The authors believe planners should broaden their vision of the built environment to include the accessibility of the housing stock.

Tyler, E.H. 2012. "Lessons from the leading age." A Publication of the Planning and Women Division of the American Planning Association. Available at

  • The author is an APA member who recently attended a major national conference dedicated to serving nonprofit senior housing and care providers. It turns out that there is much that planners can learn and apply from allied professionals in the area of elder care.

Non-APA Research and Reports

Brown, S.C., C.A. Mason, T. Perrino, J.L. Lombard, F. Martinez, E. Plater-Zyberk, and J. Szapocznik. 2008. "Built Environment and Physical Functioning in Hispanic Elders: The Role of 'Eyes on the Street.'" Environmental Health Perspectives, 116(10), 1300-1307.

  • In this population-based study in a low-socioeconomic-status, Hispanic neighborhood, the authors examined whether architectural features of the built environment theorized to promote direct observations and interactions (e.g., porches, stoops) predicted Hispanic elders' social support and psychological and physical functioning. Further binomial regression analyses suggested that elders living on blocks marked by low levels of positive front entrance features were 2.7 times as likely to have subsequent poor levels of physical functioning, compared with elders living on blocks with a greater number of positive front entrance features. Architectural features that facilitate visual and social contacts may be a protective factor for elders' physical functioning.

Clarke, P., and L.K. George. 2005. "The Role of the Built Environment in the Disablement Process." American Journal of Public Health, 95(11), 1933-1939.

  • The Disablement Process model explicates the transition from health conditions to disability and specifically emphasizes the role of intervening factors that speed up or slow down the pathway between pathology and disability. The authors used data on older adults from central North Carolina to examine the role of the built environment as a modifying factor in the pathway between lower extremity functional limitations and activities of daily living. They found that, despite declining physical function, older adults report greater independence in instrumental activities when they live in environments with more land-use diversity. Independence in self-care activities is modified by housing density, in part through the effect of substandard and inadequate housing.

Hutch, D.J., K.E. Bouye, E. Skillen, C. Lee, L. Whitehead, and J.R. Rashid. 2011. "Potential Strategies to Eliminate Built Environment Disparities for Disadvantaged and Vulnerable Communities." American Journal of Public Health, 101(4), 587-595.

  • In 2006, the Federal Collaboration on Health Disparities Research (FCHDR) identified the built environment as a priority for eliminating health disparities, and charged the Built Environment Workgroup with identifying ways to eliminate health disparities and improve health outcomes. Despite extensive research and the development of a new conceptual health factors framework, gaps in knowledge exist in areas such as disproportionate environmental and community hazards, individual and cumulative risks, and other factors. The FCHDR provides the structure and opportunity to mobilize and partner with built environment stakeholders, federal partners, and interest groups to develop tools, practices, and policies for translating and disseminating the best available science to reduce health disparities.

Maifield, A., and D. Ogurek. 2004. "Unlocking the house of rumors." Nursing Homes: Long Term Care Management, 53(6), 22-28.

  • Focuses on the efforts of long-term care organizations in the U.S. to make senior living facilities community-friendly through good design. Discusses the development of the Quality First initiative by the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging and the American Health Care Association concerning aging services and methods used by senior living organizations, architects, and developers to address changes in retirement facilities.

Modlich, R. 2010. "Age-Friendly Communities — A Women's Issue." Women & Environments International Magazine, (84/85), 28-31.

  • The article discusses the emerging popularity of the issues of active aging, aging in place, and age-friendly communities in relation to the global increase in people over age 65. It is inferred that the aging of individuals is determined by various factors such as genes, physical and mental health, economics, family and community support, medical advances, and the nature and culture of society. A checklist of criteria on the vision of an age-friendly city that reflects a strong desire for active aging and aging in one's own place is presented.

Regnier, V., and A. Denton. 2009. "Ten new and emerging trends in residential group living environments." Neurorehabilitation, 25(3), 169-188.

  • Residential-style environments for physically challenged people with neuro disabilities are rapidly replacing the standard institutional skilled nursing home. Ten trends are described that use residential design approaches to the physical environment while relying on home-care style methods for service delivery. Combined, these two forces create powerful differentiators that make group residential settings more friendly and humane. The focus of the article is specific practices gleaned from cultures and exemplars that appear to increase autonomy, independence, and privacy for those who are threatened with the loss of these lifestyle attributes. Promising concepts of service organization and community outreach are combined with detailed recommendations that address the need for lift technology and safety features in bathrooms and kitchens.

Rosenthal, L.A. 2009. "The Role of Local Government: Land-Use Controls and Aging-Friendliness." Generations, 33(2), 18-25.

  • For good or ill, it is up to City Hall to ensure that shelter-based services generally meet the needs of older people and their neighbors. This article describes the role of local politics in making communities aging-friendly, or not, and the predominance of land-use regulation and other indirect means that local governments use to influence the landscape and livability of a city. The discussion identifies a number of key considerations civic leaders should bear in mind in managing the land-use regulatory aspects of aging-friendliness moving forward.

Wells, N.M., and J. Laquatra, J. 2009. "Why Green Housing and Green Neighborhoods Are Important to the Health and Well-Being of Older Adults." Generations, 33(4), 50-57.

  • This article examines the importance of green residential environments to the health and well-being of older adults. The authors place the connection between health and the environment in a historical context and review evidence specifically related to the health of older adults. The authors compare the criteria for green housing and healthy housing and also examine emerging trends related to green senior housing and neighborhoods, including elder cohousing, the sustainable sites initiative, and assessment of health impact.

Reports by Other Organizations

"A Blueprint for Action: Developing a Livable Community for All Ages." Washington: Partners for Livable Communities, National Association for Area Agencies on Aging. Available at

  • This guide is designed for local leaders who are interested in (or already are) actively working to create an aging-friendly community. The guide can be used as a quick-reference kit for practitioners looking for tools, resources, and best practices. It includes information based on community experiences in building local leadership and solving specific challenges relating to aging. Special appendices offer topic-specific lists of studies, articles, and leading organizations.

"Community Report Card." 2012. Washington: Partners for Livable Communities. Available at

  • As part of the City Leaders Institute, Partners for Livable communities developed a Community Report Card to help civic leaders and citizens think about their community's strengths and weaknesses in Aging in Place. The report card assesses 11 components and grades the community on how well it is doing in each component of agelessness.

DeGood, K., et al. 2011. "Aging in Place: Stuck Without Options." Report written for Transportation for America. Available at

  • Report shows that in just four years, 90 percent of seniors in metro Atlanta will live in neighborhoods with poor access to options other than driving, the worst ranking among metro areas with populations over 3 million. In that size category, metro Atlanta is followed by Riverside-San Bernardino, California, along with Houston, Detroit, and Dallas. Kansas City tops the list for metros of 1 million to 3 million, followed by Oklahoma City, Fort Worth, Nashville, and Raleigh-Durham.

Farber, N., Douglas Shinkle, et al. 2011. "Aging in Place: A State Survey of Livability Policies and Practices." Research Report by the National Conference of State Legislatures and the AARP Public Policy Institute. December 2011. Full report available at Brief report available at

  • This report examines state policies that are needed to help older adults age in place. These policies include integrating land use, housing, and transportation; efficiently delivering services in the home; providing more transportation choices, particularly for older adults who no longer drive; and improving affordable, accessible housing to prevent social isolation.

Greenhouse, E., G. Homsy, and M. Warner. 2010. "Planning for family-friendly communities." Cornell University Briefing Paper. April.

  • The new pressures of an aging society require that we recognize the shared economic and community issues faced by different generations and across different ethnicities. The change will be no easy task. There are deep divides based upon inaccurate cultural stereotypes, economic inequities, and fear. Mistaken positions lead to selfish and short-sighted decision making. Planners must be at the forefront of overcoming these challenges.

Grim, Carly. 2011. "Community Empowerment Manual, 2nd ed." Report for Partners for Livable Communities. Washington: Partners for Livable Communities. Available at

  • Expanded and reorganized, the new edition builds on the tried-and-true approaches to community development showcased in the original, and invigorates the document with new case studies and a new section that helps readers better understand the challenges to liveability — aging population, deteriorating infrastructure, and declining local economies — that exist in American communities.

Harrell, R., A. Brooks, and T. Nedwick. 2009. Preserving Affordability and Access in Livable Communities: Subsidized Housing Opportunities Near Transit and the 50+ Population. AARP Public Policy Institute. Washington: AARP. Available at

  • This study analyzes the location of affordable housing in 20 metropolitan areas and their proximity to transit. Policy recommendations are provided for federal, state, and local policy makers to ensure that these areas provide affordable housing and transportation options in addition to a range of features that allow people to retain independence as they age.

Housing Assistance Council. 2011/2012. "Affordable Rural Senior Housing" Rural Voices. Winter 17(4). Available at

  • The winter edition of the Housing Assistance Council's publication Rural Voices focused on affordable housing for seniors as a critical concern as the rural population ages, addressing issues around both single-family and multifamily rental housing.

Lipman, B., J. Lubell, and E. Salomon. 2012. "Housing an Aging Population — Are We Prepared?" Report for the Center for Housing Policy. Available at

  • The report explores the effects of this coming demographic change on the demand for housing, the challenge of providing meaningful housing choices for older adults of all incomes, and the policies that could help communities across the country respond to the dual challenges of providing older adults with affordable housing and adequate services.

Lynott, Jana, et al. 2009. "Planning Complete Streets for an Aging America. " AARP Public Policy Institute, May 2009. Washington, D.C.: AARP. Full report available at Brief report available at

  • This research study encourages the planning community to take into account the needs of older pedestrians, drivers, transit riders, and bicyclists of all ages. The authors discuss the intersection of Complete Streets and planning for older travelers.

"The Maturing of America: Communities Moving Forward for an Aging Population." 2011. Report prepared by National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a), APA and other participating organizations. Full report available at Executive summary available at

  • A new report from the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging reveals that communities have, at best, managed to maintain the status quo for the past six years because of the decline in the overall economy and local government budgets.

Scharlach, Andrew. 2010. "Compendium of Community Aging Initiatives." Report by UC Berkeley's Center for the Advanced Study of Aging Services. Available at

  • A compendium of the various efforts across the country to help communities become more "aging friendly." Included are brief summaries of 121 community aging initiatives, representing responses to surveys sent to nearly 300 organizations identified through online searches.

Books on Aging in Place

Abbott, P.S., N. Carman, J. Carman, and B. Scarfo, Eds. 2009. Re-Creating Neighborhoods for Successful Aging. Baltimore: Health Professions Press.

Achenbaum, W. Andrew. 2007. Older Americans, Vital Communities: A Bold Vision for Societal Aging. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press.

Ball, M.Scott. 2012.  Livable Communities for Aging Populations: Urban Design for Longevity . New Jersey:  John Wiley & Sons.

Blanchard MSPH, Janice M. Anthony EdD, Bolton, Ed. 2013. Aging in Community. Revised Edition.  Second Journey Publications.

Cisneros, Henry, Dyer-Chamberlain, Margaret, and Hickie, Jane, Eds. 2012. Independent for Life: Homes and Neighborhoods for an Aging America. Austin: University of Texas Press.

Heuman, L.F., and B.P. Duncan, Eds. 1993. Aging in Place with Dignity: International Solutions Relating to the Low-Income and Frail Elderly. Westport, Conn.: Praeger.

Regnier, V. 2002. Design for Assistive Living: Guidelines for Housing the Physically and Mentally Frail. New York: Wiley.

Scharlach, Andrew E. and Lehning, Amanda J.2016. Creating Aging-Friendly Communities. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Stafford, Philip B. 2009. Elderburbia: Aging With a Sense of Place in America. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Praeger.

International Organizations

World Health Organization. 2007. Global age-friendly cities: a guide. Geneva: Who Press. Available at

  • Report of the Age-Friendly Cities Project, a global initiative of the World Health Organization. It is aimed at understanding the characteristics that make a city age-friendly and what characteristics constitute barriers to age-friendliness. The project ultimately included 33 cities in 22 countries.

___________. 2007. Checklist of Essential Features of Age-friendly Cities. Available at

  • A checklist of essential age-friendly city features based on the results of the WHO Global Age-Friendly Cities project consultation in 33 cities in 22 countries. The checklist is a tool for a city's self-assessment and a map for charting progress.

Additional Resources

AARP — Livable Communities Resources
AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with a membership of more than 37 million that helps people 50 and older have independence, choice, and control in ways that are beneficial to them and society as a whole. AARP's Livable Communities web pages explore issues and strategies to help the older population age in place.

Administration on Aging
The Administration on Aging is the federal agency dedicated to policy development and planning and delivery of services for the elderly and their caregivers. This agency is dedicated to policy development, planning, and the delivery of supportive home- and community-based services to older persons and their caregivers. The AOA works through the National Aging Network of State and Area Agencies on Aging, tribal and native organizations, and thousands of service providers, adult care centers, caregivers, and volunteers.

AdvantAge Initiative
This initiative helps communities facilitate Aging in Place through a comprehensive survey measuring how well older adults are faring in key areas, including housing.

American Society on Aging
The American Society on Aging is a national professional membership organization founded in 1954. Its members include practitioners, educators, researchers, and lay people working with and on behalf of the aging. It offers a wide variety of programs for continuing education and specialized training in aging. It also works at the national level to influence public policy. Publications include a quarterly journal, Generations; a bimonthly newspaper, Aging Today; an electronic member newsletter, ASA Connection; and eight quarterly newsletters by ASA's specialized constituent groups.

Center for Civic Partnerships
The Center for Civic Partnerships's mission is to provide leadership and management support to build healthier communities and more effective nonprofit organizations. Their website offers an Aging Well Toolkit designed to offer community planners strategies to engage boomers and plan for an aging population.

Center for Universal Design
The Center for Universal Design is a national information, technical assistance, and research center that evaluates, develops, and promotes accessible and universal design in housing, commercial and public facilities, outdoor environments, and products. Its mission is to improve environments and products through design innovation, research, education, and design assistance.

Leading Age
The work of LeadingAge is focused on advocacy, leadership development, and applied research and promotion of effective services, home health, hospice, community services, senior housing, assisted living residences, continuing care communities, nursing homes, and technology solutions for seniors, children, and others with special needs.

National Aging in Place Council (NAIPC)
The National Aging in Place Council is a membership organization founded on the belief that an overwhelming majority of older Americans want to remain in their homes for as long as possible, but lack awareness of home- and community-based services that make independent living possible. NAIPC has created a national forum for individuals from the aging, healthcare, financial services, legal, design and building sectors to work together to help meet the needs of a growing aging population.

National Association for Area Agencies on Aging (n4a)
The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging's primary mission is to build the capacity of its members to help older persons and persons with disabilities live with dignity and choices in their homes and communities for as long as possible.

National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)
The NAHB in collaboration with the NAHB Research Center, NAHB Seniors Housing Council, and AARP developed the Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist (CAPS) program to address the needs of individuals who may require home modifications to accommodate their needs at home as they age.

Partners for Livable Communities
A nonprofit organization, founded in 1977, that works to improve the livability of communities by promoting quality of life, economic development, and social equity. Partners is working with the National Association for Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) and AARP, as well as cities and other organizations, to gauge and enhance overall preparedness for the increasing numbers of the older adult population. The organization is developing a "Blueprint for Change" that will imagine what an elder-friendly community might be.

APA Resources

Reports, Articles, and Publications

Generations United, from the MetLife Foundation, has developed a toolkit — Creating an Age-Advantaged Community: A Toolkit for Building Intergenerational Communities that Recognize, Engage and Support All Ages (2015) — that includes planning tips with examples from successful communities across the United States, inspiring stories from award-winning communities, and more.


"Collaboration: The Key to Building Communities for All Generations"

"Not Your Mother's Suburb: Remaking Communities for a More Diverse Population," Urban Lawyer

Housing America's Older Adults — Meeting the Needs of an Aging Population

65+ in the United States: 2010

Making the Right Moves: Promoting Smart Growth and Active Aging in Communities

Is This a Good Place to Live? Measuring Community Quality of Life for All Ages

What Is Livable? Community Preferences of Older Adults


Planning for Multigenerational Communities

Weaving It Together: A Tapestry of Transportation Funding for Older Adults

Grantmakers in Aging: Why We're Supporting Age-Friendly Communities

Livable Community Indicators for Sustainable Aging in Place

Creating a Livable Community: Engaging All Generations and Improving Quality of Life

Age-Friendly Communities: The Movement to Create Great Places to Grow Up and Grow Old in America


Best Cities for Successful Aging

Housing an Aging Population — Are We Prepared?


Aging in Place: A State Survey of Livability Policies and Practices

Multigenerational Community Planning: Linking the Needs of Children and Older Adults

Aging in Place, Stuck Without Options

From APA Division Newsletters

Environment & Development Division's "News & Views" newsletter: Special Issue on Aging, Summer 2013

Aging in Place: The Village to Village Model

Lessons from the Leading Age

Planning for a Multigenerational Future

Preparing for the Coming Age Waves: Clark County, Washington's Planning Approach

TOD, Aging Populations, & Health


United States Administration on Aging

National Institute on Aging

2017 National Population Data: Older People Projected to Outnumber Children for First Time in U.S. History

Aging 2.0

Profile of Older Americans: ACL Administration for Community Living

Generations United

Grantmakers in Aging: Home